The Voluntary Carbon Market Integrity Initiative (VCMI) has launched its Claims Code of Practice, providing companies with guidelines for making credible climate claims using carbon credits on their journey to net zero. The Claims Code, which promotes the use of the “contribution claims” model, has been welcomed by climate experts worldwide as a positive step forward for the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) following criticism. The Code aims to build market integrity and confidence in VCM, with the ultimate goal of financing climate transition globally.
The final claim tiers outlined in the Claims Code are Silver, Gold, and Platinum, replacing the provisional bronze, silver, and gold levels. Each tier recognizes investment in emission reductions and removals beyond corporate action, as companies strive to achieve their net zero targets. Platinum is considered the highest level for companies to claim, indicating the best available performance. The thresholds for each tier are determined by the number of carbon credits retired, which is proportional to the remaining emissions in a given year as a company progresses towards its targets. Further guidance on this, as well as additional claim tiers and names, will be provided by VCMI in November 2023.
To make a VCMI Claim, companies must follow four steps outlined in the Claims Code. Firstly, they need to comply with VCMI’s Foundational Criteria. Then, they must choose the appropriate claim tier from the three available options. Next, they should purchase carbon credits that meet quality thresholds set by the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Markets (ICVCM) and their Core Carbon Principles (CCP). Finally, companies must disclose relevant information and obtain third-party assurance in accordance with the VCMI Measurement, Reporting, and Assurance (MRA) Framework.
In developing the Claims Code, VCMI has collaborated with major initiatives that drive corporate climate action, including the Greenhouse Gas Protocol, ICVCM, Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi), and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). The aim is to ensure clear and transparent guidance for companies utilizing carbon credits as part of their climate goals, while preventing abusive use and greenwashing.
Allister Furey, CEO and co-founder of Sylvera, has praised the launch of the Claims Code, stating that it provides solid guidance to resolve confusion and uncertainty around companies’ climate action claims. However, while the publication of the code is crucial in channeling climate finance to credible climate action, some argue that more needs to be done and that carbon credits are not a panacea. Nevertheless, the Claims Code serves as a valuable starting point for entities seeking to voluntarily use carbon credits in their climate initiatives. By adhering to the Code, companies can demonstrate their climate leadership, mitigate reputation risks, and position themselves for a low-carbon transition.
When combined with ICVCM’s Core Carbon Principles, which guide the supply side of the market, VCMI’s Claims Code of Practice brings end-to-end integrity to the Voluntary Carbon Market, facilitating critical market development in the pursuit of global net zero goals.
(Source: Adapted from original content)